Girl uses equestrian skills to take stand against cancer

Posted at: 12/31/2012 9:03 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A young girl with a big heart decided to take a stand against cancer on horseback.

Heather Mills went to Belen to meet with Reilly Holder for this week's Hometown Heroes.

Reilly Holder is just 12 years old, but cancer has already touched her life.

"I'll go out on trail rides and that's my time to think." Reilly said. "I find it easier to think if I'm on horseback."

Reilly's grandfather beat cancer, but a family friend wasn't so lucky.

"You can't put together how you feel when someone you love has cancer, so at least I could help a little."

And she did. She decided to raise money on horseback.

"I said that I was going to set up a team penning competition and raise money for cancer."

Team penning is a timed Western equestrian sport that involves separating cattle into pens.

Reilly came up with the idea as she was applying for a scholarship to the 4-H Horse School.

It went off without a hitch.

Reilly's mom, Christine said, "For her to think of that, and to come up with the idea and actually follow through and not think, 'Well, I'm 12.'"

Reilly guided a team of volunteers to help her set up the arena, secured a cattle loan for the event and recruited riders.

She ended up with $550, which all went straight to the UNM Cancer Center.

"When she went up to present the check to Dr. Willman at the UNM Cancer Center, it was just, really, I was just, she seemed so grown up, so mature," said Christine Holder.

Reilly added, "I feel confident that I've helped, maybe not take away the whole cancer thing, but at least helped someone and their family."